NGO briefing in Strasbourg discusses cases against Bulgaria, Russia and Ukraine

EIN NGO briefing at the Council of Europe premises on 24 May 2017

EIN NGO briefing at the Council of Europe premises on 24 May 2017

On 24 May 2017, the European Implementation Network (EIN) convened its quarterly civil society briefing to the Committee of Ministers (CM) on cases scheduled for its review at the 1288th CM-DH meeting on 6-8 June 2017. On that occasion, the EIN briefed CM members on the implementation of cases of United Macedonian Organisation Ilinden and Others group v Bulgaria, Ananyev and Others group and Kalashnikov group v Russian Federation and Yuriy Nikolayevich Ivanov and Zhovner group v Ukraine. The briefing took place at the premises of the Council of Europe. 

United Macedonian Organisation Ilinden and Others group v Bulgaria (Appl. No. 59491/00)

The cases concern the unjustified refusals of the courts to register an association aiming at achieving "the recognition of the Macedonian minority in Bulgaria". The refusals were based on considerations of national security, protection of public order and the rights of others and on the constitutional prohibition on associations pursuing political goals, which the European Court of Human Rights found in violation of Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights. To date, no Macedonian group has been registered by the Bulgarian courts under the existing procedure despite numerous attempts by several organisations, including the UMO Ilinden. 

The assessment of the latest domestic developments was provided by Krassimir Kanev, Chairperson of the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC). A brief note of the BHC disseminated at the briefing can be found here. All action plans and reports of the Government of Bulgaria in these cases, including the latest addendum to the action plan of March 2017, can be found on HUDOC EXEC here (see under 'Related'). 

Ananyev and Others group and Kalashnikov group v Russian Federation (Appl. Nos. 42525/07, 47095/99)

In these cases, the Court found that poor detention conditions in Russian remand centres and lack of effective remedies to challenge it amounted to violations of Articles 3 and 13 of the Convention respectively. The Court highlighted this as a structural problem in the Russian Federation by applying a pilot judgment procedure in the case of Ananyev and Others. 

During the briefing, Natalia Taubina, Director of the Public Verdict Foundation (PVF) discussed the latest developments in the execution process of the respective cases, including the latest action plan of the authorities of April 2017, and provided recommendations. The latest PVF submission under the rule 9(2) of the Rules of the Committee of Ministers filed after the NGO briefing can be found here.

Yuriy Nikolayevich Ivanov and Zhovner group v Ukraine (Appl. Nos. 40450/04, 56848/00)

These cases relate to the structural problem of non-enforcement or delayed enforcement of domestic judicial decisions, mostly delivered against the State and against state owned or controlled entities, and to the lack of an effective remedy in this respect. The Court found Ukraine in violation of Articles 6.1, 13 and Article 1 of Protocol 1 of the Convention. According to the Hudoc Exec database, the group concerns about 420 cases. The Court's judgment in the case of Yuriy Nikolayevich Ivanov was adopted through a pilot judgment procedure highlighting the non-enforcement of domestic decision as a structural problem in Ukraine. According to the information available on the Hudoc Exec database, as of 18 January 2017, there were 11,780 Ivanov-type cases pending before the Court, of which 8,479 have been communicated to the Ukrainian Government. The latest action plan of the authorities was submitted for the CM-DH meeting on 9-11 June 2015.

Latest information on the execution of these cases and recommendations to the Ukrainian Government were presented by Maksim Shcherbatyuk from the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union (UHHRU). The UHHRU submission under the rule 9(2) of the Rules of the Committee of Ministers filed after the NGO briefing can be found here. 

 

New HUDOC-EXEC Database on Execution of Judgments of the European Court of Human Rights: The EIN Test Drive

A screenshot of the HUDOC EXEC database front page 

A screenshot of the HUDOC EXEC database front page 

The database on the execution of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has been of long-standing concern for advocates of the implementation of judgments.  The old database required perseverance, experience and no little wisdom. Whilst most information was available, it was not always discoverable. Human rights civil society has long advocated for changes in the database and its integration into the HUDOC system. We therefore welcome the news that the Committee of Ministers has launched the HUDOC-EXEC database.

What are the improvements brought by HUDOC-EXEC and how may they be improved further?  Ramute Remezaite (EIN), Dominika Bychawska-Siniarska (EIN Secretary, Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights) and myself conducted a test drive to share with the EIN community.  Here is our verdict:

Positives

•      The new database is much more user friendly.

•      It’s a one-stop-shop that provides all relevant information about a single case in one place. This allows easy and systematic access to submissions of all relevant parties (member states, ‘Rule 9’ submissions from NGOs and NHRIs) and decisions of the Committee of Ministers. This is a very positive improvement.

•      The search engine, similar in style and mode of operation to the HUDOC database of ECtHR judgments, allows searches focusing on countries, articles of the Conventions and human rights violation themes. It has now become much easier to assess thematic shortcomings in implementation across countries as well as which issues suffer from slow implementation in a single state.

•      It is now much easier to find systematised information on closed cases. With the previous database this was very difficult, so this is a great improvement.

Needs further improvement

•      Full information seems to be missing for some of the cases we searched on.  We hope that this is due to the work in progress nature of the database. 

•      The new database uses labels of lead and repetitive cases.  But we are unable to access full information on individual repetitive cases when clicking on them. We hope it is only a matter of time before these appear on the database.

•      It is not possible to search for pilot judgments. As monitoring the effective execution of pilot judgments is of utmost importance, it should be possible to generate searches on pilot judgments with respect to all countries.

•      Thematic searches can be improved further, and it is not at all times clear what the difference is between themes/domains and violations.

•      The search engine does not include information on the payment status of just satisfaction claims. 

•      The search engine does not allow the implementation status of general and individual measures to be searched for separately.

•      In some cases, unilateral declarations appear on the database. We would welcome all unilateral declarations to be in the database (and involvement of the Committee of Ministers in their supervision). But when they appear, unilateral declarations are listed under the heading of friendly settlements. As unilateral declarations are clearly not friendly settlements this is a confusing way of organising the information.

•      We would welcome the better integration of the HUDOC and HUDOC-EXEC databases.  It would be very helpful for lawyers litigating cases to see the status of execution of similar repetitive cases in a one-stop search engine. This would also increase the awareness of the ECtHR with respect to the execution/non-execution status before further improvements that of repetitive judgments they address.

We believe that the voices of NGOs and lawyers have played a part in the revamping of the database. We look forward to further improvements that would enable us to fully track the status of judgments and thus enhance our ability to champion their implementation.

EIN would like to compile feedback from our members and partners. Let us know your feedback by contacting us at ein.strasbourg@gmail.com

Başak Çalı, EIN Chair